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DRIVING IN AUSTRALIA

 

movingSo its your first time at driving in Australia. Your plane has landed your passport stamped and you are about to jump behind the steering wheel of your Australian rental car. Well before you turn on the ignition lets start with a few legal requirements and the road rules for driving in Australia.

 

DRIVING LICENSE

If you are driving in Australia as a Permanent residents of WA you are required to have a Western Australian driving license.

Applying for the WA license is not difficult. You are required to sit a computer based theory test (30 questions of which you need to get 24 right) unless you are from the countries listed on this page of the dpi website (UK is included) when you are not required to take the theory test.

There is a sample of the test here. If you don't have an overseas license then before you can start driving in Autralia you will be required to sit both a theory and a practical driving test.

To get your WA licence pop along to one of the licencing centres with

  1. your overseas licence which, must be current or if expired by no more than 12 months
  2. proof of identity which must include a primary identity such as your passport and secondary identity which shows your WA address.
  3. You will be required to pay for your WA licence.
    • A 1 year driving license will cost $70-$80 for a car for the first year and $35 for every year after that.
    • You can pay for the license to run for longer periods of 3 or 5 years which will be cheaper in the long run. (check fees for updates at learners.gov.au site for an up to date figure)

 

ROAD SAFETY

First thing to know is that you drive your car in Perth (& when you are driving in the rest of Australia) on the left side of the road.

 

SEAT BELTS

Seat Belts must be worn it is compulsory for every person in a vehicle (drivers and passengers) to wear a seat belt. On the spot fines and points are issued to the driver for non compliance.

Gareth (my hubby) got issued with $150 fine and 3 points for not wearing his seat belt while driving our car last week. He got stopped seconds from leaving the house so be warned, wearing a seat belt is a must for everyone)


DRINK DRIVING

It is a serious offence in all states and territories of Australia to drive a vehicle whilst under the influence of alcohol.

''Booze busses'' are a West Australian police tactic to combat this and roadblocks are set up for random testing. Adjoining roads are also patrolled by police to catch escaping drink drivers.

When you see a roadblock you must stop and pull over as directed. You will be breathalysed and if you are over the limit, you will be charged, fined and banned depending in your blood alcohol levels.

The maximum legal blood alcohol level is .05% for private drivers unless you are on probationary plates when its 0.2%. Zero percent (0%) if you are driving a coach or multi passenger vehicle.

 

SPEED LIMITS

40 km per hour speed limit applies around schools at the start & end of the school day.
50 km per hour speed limit applies in residential areas in towns & cities.
60 km per hour in other residential and commercial zones.
70 or 80km per hour on dual carriageways.
100 km (or indicated) speed limit applies on most open roads and freeways.
110km per hour is the maximum speed allowed in WA and usually applies to country/bush roads.

Speeding is frowned upon in Western Australia and cameras are used everywhere and moved regularly to catch offenders.

The cameras are called Multiovas & operate 24 hours a day and can be moved several times within a day. They can be hidden in bushes, behind bus stops, the central reservation, anywhere they can hide one.

They are hard to spot until it is too late as you will not see a police car near a majority of the cameras. The operation is run by a private company on behalf of the Police.

You will always know when you have been through a speed camera as there will be a yellow sign at the side of the road to tell you.

Local radio stations do try to give drivers a location for the cameras each day and you will hear updates broadcast over the air as drivers ring in locations but the best thing is to be aware of what the speed limit is before taking to the road and stick to the speed limit. Fines start at $50 with penalty points if you are caught driving over the limit.

 

DEMERIT POINTS

You start with 12 points on your licence and loose points.  Once you reach nil points you are disqualified from driving.  It is very easy to loose your licence in Western Australia if your not careful.  If you get  a demerit point on a public holiday long weekend or over the Christmas holiday you will loose double the number of points.

In the UK I was never pulled over for speeding but over here I have been fined and given points for speeding on 3 occasions.

 

CAR INSURANCE & ROAD TAX (REGGO)

Car All Vehicles in WA are eligible for a License Tax (includes cars, motorcycles, trailers, caravans, trucks & buses). License Tax is paid in 6 or 12 month fees varying on engine size and business use.

The road tax license also includes Third Party Insurance cover so there is no legal requirement for insurance cover. .

However it is worth noting that the cover your road tax provides is limited to bodily injury claims and if the accident was your fault then the other driver is within his rights to ask you for compensation for loss or damage o his vehicle. It is highly recommended that Fully Comprehensive cover is purchased to cover your vehicles against such losses along with fire & theft. We use the RAC for our car insurance and find they also offer very competitive rates in home & roadside assistance.

NO MOT IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA

We were surprised to learn that there is no annual MOT in WA for private vehicles. This means that safety standards may not be as high as what you are used to and when buying a second hand car you will need to be aware that you may end up buying a car that's unroadworthy. As long as the license tax (Reggo) is maintained each year the vehicle can stay on the road (failure to maintain the Reggo will mean the vehicle will have to undergo a safety test before the license plates and vehicle safety certificate can be reissued.

BUT THERE ARE YELLOW STICKERS

However it is the responsibility of the Police to enforce the laws regarding the maintenance of a vehicle and if you are stopped by the Police and they find that the vehicle is faulty in any way (tyres, lights etc.) they will give you a yellow sticker you will be required to take the vehicle for a test to get a certificate of safety.

 

FUEL

Most vehicles in WA run on Petrol or Diesel. with LPG is becoming a popular fuel which can be found at most fuel stations. Currently there is a government subsidy available for converting a private vehicle over to LPG.

Fuel prices vary and go up and down in price, with the weekend and public holidays generally more expensive.

Diesel is usually a few cents more expensive than petrol (used by 4x4 and commercial vehicles) and LPG is about half the price of petrol. Of course the KM per litre your vehicle will do is relevant to the type of fuel you are using.

The Perth metro area is the cheapest place to find fuel with the price increasing as you go out into the more rural areas. For the current price of fuel click here to be taken through to the government fuel watch site.

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